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Monday, May 25, 2009

Taking Chance


Today is Memorial Day, the day we've set aside in this country to honor fallen soldiers. This weekend I watched a movie on HBO called Taking Chance that fits the theme of this day beautifully.

Taking Chance is based on a true story and an article written by a Marine Lt. Colonel about his experience escorting home the body of Marine PFC Chance Phelps. Lt. Col. Mike Strobl, who was played by actor Kevin Bacon, did not know Chance Phelps. But he had his own personal reasons for volunteering to escort Phelps' body from Dover Air Force Base to a small town in Wyoming.

The film showed how much respect and care are given when the bodies of fallen soldiers are prepared for return to their families. I'd never really thought of the fact that when these soldiers die in combat, they are likely to be dirty -- not to mention bloody. As gracefully -- not graphically -- depicted in the film, the military takes great care to present these soldiers in the most dignified manner, even if their families elect not to view the bodies.

I was struck by the profound respect and honor with which Strobl, and more importantly Phelps, were treated in their journey across the country. Flight attendants, tarmac personnel, passengers all showed a somber reverence for what was taking place. The film is pretty true to the facts shared in the original article written by Lt. Col. Strobl.

I think what makes this such an amazing and tender film is the lack of political propaganda. There is no attempt to judge the war in Iraq as just or not. It's not a movie about a war. It's a movie about how the military and everyday Americans say thank you to the men and women who give their lives in service to our country.

The film ends with pictures of Chance Phelps, underscoring the reality of the story.

The DVD and a CD of the film's soundtrack are available for purchase at the HBO Shop. It might be worth buying to watch and then donating to your local library or high school.


Momza said...

There should have been a Warning label on this, have a box of tissues next to you and don't read this before you take the kids to school...
I am a Patriot whose heart is filled with respect for our military servants and leaders...thank you for this wonderful opportunity to further impress my heart with all the reasons why.

Marine Wife said...

We watched it over the weekend,too. Your post was beautifully written. At one point early in the film, my husband said he wasn't sure if he was going to get thru it (without crying). By that time, I'd already gone thru a few tissues!

Joanie said...

I just finished reading Col Strobl's story of Cpl. Phelps. It was an honor to read it.
Mine is a military family (dad was in the Navy in WW II, 3 brothers (1 in Viet Nam, 1 in First Gulf War and 1 who served for 20 years)who were Marines, a brother-in-law (2 tours in Viet Nam) who spent 30 years in the Army, a nephew who is a blackhawk pilot and served in Iraq, and Afghanistan, my John who served in the Army for 20 years and was in the Grenada invasion, and his son who is in the Army and did 3 tours in Iraq. And Thank God they all came home.
I ALWAYS thank soldiers for their service when I see them around town.

Shannon @ Gabi's World said...

Sounds like a good one!

Lori said...

I saw this movie this weekend too and was so moved by it. I have the greatest respect for all the men and women of the military and the huge sacrifices they and their families make for this country. It breaks my heart to read and watch stories like this.

Marine Wife said...

Special features included interviews with LtCol Strobl and members of Phelps' family and platoon. At some point, they were all gathered in 29 Palms, CA (where Phelps' unit is based) to rename a mess hall in Phelps' honor. A lot of footage came from that. There was also a vignette about Chance Phelps, with pictures of him growing up.